Breaking ground on our backyard farm

During winter break, Austin and I began work creating what is essentially a cedar retention wall that will form three terraced garden beds down the hill.

We are finally breaking ground on some backyard projects. Our plan is to turn our large suburban lot into a thriving food farm that provides most, if not all, of our fruit and vegetable needs.

Our biggest challenges? Time and a steep slope.

Time — we are getting married March 14th at our home and want it to be tidy with a lot of usable space outdoors for our 30-40 guests.

Steep slope — After a small portion of flat area right outside the back door, our yard slopes down into a drainage ditch. This is where the water gathers for our part of the housing development after a rain. It also presents some mosquito problems in the summer.

IMG_3013 So far, we have had to clear the land of brush and overgrowth. It was quite simple, although time consuming, when all of it died or became dormant for the season.

We removed the small trees and trimmed up the large ones in the area to make room for ample fruit trees. So far, we have planted a plum and a pear tree (and we have a fig closer to the house.) The fire pit pictured was my work for that day, chopping the small trees and branches into shorter lengths and then burning them. The ash is much easier to incorporate into the garden than large limbs.

And today I got cuttings of yaupon holly to nurture now and plant later this year, which will provide a natural source of caffeine from the garden! More about this in another post when I try to make tea from some clippings I also acquired from those friends today.

Everything must have a purpose in an urban farm because space and resources are limited.

In the area below, we plan to build a small deck and use rock pavers to make the fire pit area more hospitable. Although not pictured, I’ve already dug two giant holes beside the fire pit in order to bury some tires (that Austin picked up curbside early last year and we used for two seasons to grow potatoes without as much success as I’d hoped). The re-re-purposed tires (four total) will be buried half way and create seating for those around the fire.

Some day, I might even get a wild hair to paint them with the kids’ help.

The structure to the right is our tin-roof open-air chicken coop made from free wood pallets. In front of it, we have a run fenced in with chicken wire and covered with mesh (the tulle kind that sometimes goes for reeeeeal cheap at the fabric store, especially the ones that also offer a teacher discount).


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